My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber [BOOK REVIEW]

my name is anna - lizzy barber books books review blog diary of difference diaryofdifference

★★★★★

Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?

My name is Anna is one of those books that captures your attention from the moment you look at its cover. Then, it drags you into a story, makes you bite your nails throughout, lifts you up in the air with the amazing writing and than smashes you back into the ground with the incredible twist at the end. Exactly what you want and need from a thriller.

The story is being told by two girls:

  • Anna, a girl raised with a religious mother, where everything is forbidden and everything is a sin. And when on her 18th Birthday, Anna decides to disobey her mum and go to a theme park, she feels like she has been here before. And then random events lead to her realising that she was taken away when she was a little girl. And her real name is not Anna at all…

  • Rosie, a girl whose big sister has been missing for fifteen years. And when the media is ready to let the story go after the fifteen years anniversary, Rosie is determined to do whatever it takes to discover the truth of what actually happened on that day at the theme park.

The first thing I noticed in this book, that makes it different than all the stories about the kidnapping is – that the plot is being revealed in the first chapters. I was not expecting to immediately know that Anna and Rosie are sisters and Anna was kidnapped as a girl, but this was stated in the first chapters in the book. I personally thought that this would be the big twist, but the twist came to be so much better than that.

I loved how you could relate to both girls, for different reasons, and how even though they were sisters, how one little moment changed their lives completely. How Anna was raised with different beliefs than Rosie, and how they grew up to be so different, but the same…

This was a great story that give you thoughts about ‘’what could’ve been…’’ and it makes you wonder – if certain things didn’t happen, would our lives be the same?

The end for me, was particularly meaningful. The last moments, the realisation, the conclusion, the story that ended, or the one that never begun, all the things we could’ve been, but are not, and all the things that we wish we could have changed, but we can’t.

If you, like me, are into kidnapping stories, amazing twists and thriller stories that take your breath away, this will definitely be the perfect book for you. This will be a hit at the beginning of 2019, and it will hit the top shelves. I know it hits my favourite shelf – for sure!

My Name is Anna is being published on 10th January, but you can pre-order your copy today on the links below:

Amazon 
Penguin House UK
Waterstones

A huge thanks to Penguin Random House UK, for providing me with a hardback copy, in exchange for an honest review of this book. The opinions in this review are entirely my own, and completely unbiased.

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The Rumour by Lesley Kara [BOOK REVIEW]

Book Wrap Up - monthly

★★★★

The Rumour is Lesley Kara’s debut novel, a gripping book about what people are capable of doing when they feel threatened and exposed. A thriller about paranoia, fear and suspense unlike anything you have read before.

 

When Joanna moved into a small town, all she wants to do is be happy, with her son Alfie and her mother being beside her. Her son Alfie had troubles with bullies in the big city, and all his mum wants for him right now is for him to be happy and fit in the crowd.

And when a rumour starts hovering around that a woman that has killed a child a long time ago is living in the town, under a new identity, Joanna decides to share this rumour around with her friends, in hope that this will hopefully result in Alfie making some friends.

But what happens when a simple comment goes all wrong, and starts spreading like a virus? And what if this rumour happens to be true? What if there is indeed a killer living undercover in this small town, and is very upset and wants to punish those who share this rumour around? Starting with Alfie…

The Rumour is being published on 27th December 2018,
but you can pre-order it HERE.

The Rumour was a thrilling read for me, as I haven’t read anything similar before. We see the story from Joanne’s point of view, but mostly, we see the story from a perspective of a mother.

 

We see a woman who is overthinking everything regarding her child, always asking herself twice whether she has made the right choice, and always wondering whether her child is safe.

And I am not a parent, but I can imagine that every parent over-worries about their children. Even at some point all of us would wonder whether this is normal, or we are just being paranoid again? And this initial moment has lead Joanne to become anxious and insecure, and feeling like something is wrong constantly.

I loved the plot around the child-killer, and how it slowly was developing throw a lot of characters.

I certainly did not expect that twist a few chapters before the end, and the final twist in the last chapters. This gave the story a whole new ‘’wow’’ factor, and I was really pleased.

I wouldn’t put it on my shelf of 5-star books, as I couldn’t get the biting nails moment. However, this books keeps you reading through, and I can’t wait to read more from Lesley. She is a great author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, for giving me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare [BOOK REVIEW]

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare [BOOK REVIEW] books blog blogging diary of difference diaryofdifference★★★★★

I have already read this book back in 2014. This time, I decided to go with the whole series, as I stopped reading them for some reason.

City of Bones is the first book from The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare. This is a book that is really distinctive for the fact that it takes you to a whole new world instantly, and you immediately feel comfortable with it.

The story starts when Clary and her friend Simon are in a night club, and a boy is being attacked. When Clary calls out for help, it seems that only she can see the attackers. And immediately, within a few pages, we are introduced to a paranormal world that is not visible to mundanes, and we discover all sorts of creatures: angels, demons, fae, vampires, werewolves…

And when Clary discovers that her mother, who used to be a part of a society, and kept it all hidden from her goes missing – she is determined to find her, save her, and find out about her past.

I liked the fact that we have a world so wonderfully constructed, and so thoughtfully created, that drags you in immediately. I usually am the person that  struggles with new worlds and incredible amounts of creatures, but this was a great exception.

Book Cover (1)Goodreads | Amazon

The characters were well-developed, and I was impressed by how the author managed to present some of today’s taboo topics in this novel. I find it really courageous. I straight-out don’t like Simon. Like, at all… He is a wonderful friend, and Clary means a lot to him, but he was just so dull the whole book.

I liked Clary, and I loved how she slowly discovered everything, but I wasn’t really that involved with her.

On the other side, I loved Jace. He is such a hottie. Sarcastic little cutsie thing! I also adored his honesty. It is something that not everyone has these days…

‘’He’s not a liar at all. Not about important things. He’ll tell you horrible truths, but he won’t lie.’’ She paused before she added quietly, ‘’That’s why it’s certainly better not to ask him anything unless you know you can stand to hear the answer.’’

I liked Luke’s story, and he had an amazing cliff-hanger around the end of the book. But Magnus is one of the people I wanted to see more of, and I wish there two places were swapped.

Isabelle and Alec – I really loved them. We didn’t get to see too much of them, but they were both really important in some of the crucial moments in this book.

All in all, I really loved the story. And I am a bit sad that the couple I was shipping for can’t be together, but it is what it is. I am going to put a Lannister reference here, and if you have read the book, you will understand: ‘’Oh, the things we do for love…’’

‘’To love is to destroy, and to be loved is to be the one destroyed.’’

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Down The TBR Hole #2

down the tbr hole book books blog diary of difference

Hi Lovelies!

The second edition of the Down the TBR Hole. On my previous attempt, I have managed to clear 3 out of 10, and I am eager to see how this one will go.

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

  • Order on ascending date added.

  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.

  •  Read the synopsis of the books.

  • Decide: keep it or should it go

Here’s the next patch:

#1

#2

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol and Origin are the only books I haven’t read from the Robert Langdon Series. I am eager to finish what I have started.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown

As my previous comment, with already two books on my TBR from Dan Brown, I will remove Digital Fortress from my TBR for now.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A classic I have always been trying to get my hands on, and a must-read book. Staying!

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Приказни од Мјаукедонија by Igor Dzambazov

This is a Macedonian book by one of the most popular show-men in our country. As I have no chance of getting this book in my hands right now, I will pass.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

I have wanted to read Sophie’s World since childhood, and I love philosophy. This one is staying, and I will actually push this to be one of my reads in early 2019.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacton

I actually don’t know what this book is doing here, or why I have put it. Needless to say more?

Verdict:  REMOVE ✖

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I am half-way through the second season of the TV Show, and I know that 90% of the times books are better than movies, so I will give this one a go.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I have put this on my wishlist 5 years ago. Now I realise why. Unfortunately (or luckily), this is not my taste anymore. I think I’ve grown up.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

All I want for Christmas by Amy Silver

I don’t remember adding this book to my list. It seems like a great read, and I love Christmas books. I thought I should keep it in case we run out of new Christmas books, but who are we kidding… As I don’t own this at the moment, I will let it go.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

The Nanny by Melissa Nathan

I love Nanny books, this subject has a great meaning to me. I am not sure if I will read this in a near future, or ever read it, but I will keep it in my TBR for now.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

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This time it seems to be 5 staying and 5 going. I think I am getting better at this. My TBR already looks smaller (who are we kidding? :D). Let me know if you have read any of these, and if you want me to keep or remove any of these books from my list! I look forward to see what you think!

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin Book Review ( A Song of Ice and Fire #1 ) book series books bestseller blog

★★★★★

This book will shake and break your heart. This book will make you realise that life is anything but gentle. But this book will also bring you the greatest adventure you have yet to see.

I have bought my whole book collection back in 2014. I have been procrastinating with this series for four years. And today, while writing this review, I thank the old gods and the new, for convincing me to read the first book.

I am probably one of the last people that have reviewed this book, and I assume you all already know a lot about the Game of Thrones series.

It is a book about one Iron Throne, and all the wars, fights, betrayals are about who will be sitting on that throne, and who will be in charge of all kingdoms.

Now, starting off, I am still not sure why people would send armies and armies of soldiers in order to win the throne, when it seems that no matter who becomes a king, that person gets instantly killed. And no kingdom respects each other, and kings and lords keep fighting off and wasting resources for a lost purpose, so there’s that as well.

We have many houses, Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tully, Arryn, Targaryen, Tyrell, Greyjoy, Martell, etc – and they all feature with something unique to their house. Most importantly, they all either want the throne, want revenge or want them both.

But just to clarify – I loved the book!

Book Cover (11)

George R.R. Martin is a genius! He has created this amazing world, and characters that are so alive that make you either hate them or love them, but with all your heart. He has created relationships so tangled and stories so well written, that he puts other authors to shame.

The book is written from a third person perspective, and each chapter features a character. And with each chapter, George moves the time gradually, so we are not stuck in a loop of time pause. I enjoyed this method quite a lot! It kept the story line going very smoothly.

‘’Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.’’

There were so many characters I admired. But my connection with these characters in this book is unlike any other connection I have made. I usually either love or hate a character. But here, I judged actions, and relationships, and things people said and did!

I liked Eddard Stark’s bravery, and his manliness, but I didn’t like the fact that he was too honest for his own good.

‘’Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?

‘’That’s the only time a man an be brave’’.

I loved Arya’s fierceness, but I didn’t like her stubbornness.

‘’For the second time today Arya reflected that life was not fair.’’

I liked Sansa’s politeness, and girlishness. She had all the perfect manners, but she also would betray family for love.

I loved Jon Snow’s story, and how he overcame his past, and learned to live with it.

‘’Let me give you some counsel, bastard. ‘’ Lannister said. ‘’Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.’’

I loved many other characters for things they did, and hated many others, but I cherished the difference in each and every character, and that was the beauty in it – that even though an author can create so many characters, he can make them so different from each other.

In this book, you will encounter everything: mostly mean people, ready to kill everyone and anyone standing in the way of their plans. You will read about a story of a family that falls apart, a kingdom that vanishes, a fight between kings, how a little girl will learn life in one day, how a mother will watch her children disappear, one by one.

Get your copy of A Song Of Ice and Fire

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Delusions – Amy Crandall [BOOK REVIEW]

Book Review - Title

★★★★

A must-have for all the lovers of psychological thrillers and mysteries – this is a book that will show you a twisted side of a human being so well, that you will not know what happened once you reach the end! A masterpiece of a thriller – a delight for all the murder solvers out there! 

Synopsis: 

A deadly game is being played. The question is . . . who will survive?

  ***

As she waits to give her statement in one of the interrogation rooms of Arcata Police Department, Abigale recites the same line over and over inside her head.

I did not kill anyone.

I did not kill anyone.

But there’s a trail of bodies, and it leads straight to her. The events that brought her to this very moment all point to one thing . . . her guilt.

She must convince Detective Collins of her innocence, but how can she explain her ties to the victims, and the evidence that has her name written all over it?

Then there’s the mysterious Facebook profile, DarkHeart434.

Who is DarkHeart434? And why does it seem like this person has all the answers, including the identity of the real murderer?

As pieces of the puzzle start to come together, everything about Abigale’s life begins to unravel–her past, her present . . . and even her self-proclaimed innocence.

Delusions - Amy Crandall - book review - books blog diary of difference - mystery - thriller - murder

”She remembered now. The deaths. They weren’t just delusions planted in her mind by others. They were real.”

This book starts in an interrogation room, where two detectives are questioning Abigale about the murders that happened – and she is the main suspect. As the interrogation happens in the present, we follow the story in the past from Abigale’s point of view, from the moment she moves into the new town.

The story and plot are so well set, and the past and present are so well connected that give you clues step by step, until you reach the grand ending, and nothing is as you expected. Even though I realised what is happening around the middle of the book, I still had to keep reading to find out whether it was true in the end.

This is, for certain, the best ending of a mystery book I have read so far!

The characters – some of them – are so twisted, and so psychologically unstable and scary, that it makes you wonder. Such possessiveness and anger, and twisted mind – Amy managed to perfectly such a rare condition. ( I am trying so hard here to stay away from all the spoilers.)

”Abigale wasn’t the outgoing type. She’d rather sit in her room with her nose buried in a book than socialise with anyone outside her inner circle of friends, which was small to begin with.”

I wish I could connect with Abigale’s character – but I just couldn’t. That was the only flaw I had with this book. I didn’t care enough for her, and for what was happening to her. The side characters were amazingly portrayed though – I enjoyed reading about Julia and Mike, and Damien – what an interesting character!

”There was something about him that made her feel alive and ready for anything, but there was another part that screamed danger. She wasn’t sure she liked either half.”

The ending, as I already mentioned, was the best one I have read – it was so unexpected and so amazing – I can’t explain that feeling of satisfaction when all the little pieces from the puzzle throughout the book finally come together – spectacular!

If you love mystery, psychological thrillers and good book that keeps you on your toes all the time – this is the book for you. I highly recommend it!

Thank you to the author, Amy Crandall, for sending me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Get a copy of DELUSIONS here: 

And don’t forget – follow me on Instagram to get daily updates on what I am currently reading – @diaryofdifference

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Down The TBR Hole #1

down the tbr hole book books blog diary of difference

I saw an amazing post created by Lost In A Story! It is supposed to be productive and help you to narrow your TBR list down. This is my first time doing it, so hopefully you can also help me decide whether I have made the right choices!

How it works:

  •  Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

  •  Order on ascending date added.

  •  Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.

  • Read the synopsis of the books.

  •  Decide: keep it or should it go

 

Books 1-10

TBR #1.jpgTBR #1.2.jpg

➥  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This book has been on my shelf since 2014, and I have never read it. I even have the books. I really love the synopsis, it’s a bestseller and mostly all of my friends have loved it.

Verdict: KEEP  ☑

➥  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

I have heard so many good things about this book. I love mysteries and psychological thrillers, and I really want to get to read this one. I don’t own it yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

Verdict: KEEP ☑

Deception Point by Dan Brown

I love Dan Brown and I have read most of his books. This book was the first on my list by him, but I read all the other ones before. I will give it a pass now, and hopefully will return to it some day.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

➥ The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

I have actually read this book when I was in middle grade school – but I never analysed it the way I would now – that is why this is on my TBR list. I will keep it for now, and hopefully will borrow it from the library next month.

Verdict: KEEP ☑

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

This has been on my TBR since I was a teen – I have it at home and never managed to read it. However, these past few months I have been in a ”vampire books” mood, so I will keep it on my list for now.

Verdict: KEEP ☑

Safe Harbour by Danielle Steel

I have read many books from Danielle Steel, and I have enjoyed them all. At the moment, she has far more newer books than Safe Harbour, so I will pass it.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I enjoyed ”The Last Letter From Your Lover” so much, and I have seen the movie for Me Before You. I might not get to it straight away, but I have to read this book.

Verdict: KEEP ☑

Marley & Me by John Grogan

Probably you have all heard or read this book by now. I haven’t. I know, I know, I am horrible. I always manage to not read the most read books in the world. I am keen or reading it, but I am not sure whether I will actually get to it.

Verdict: KEEP ☑

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is my favourite romance authors. I have read so many books from him, and keep reading them. The Rescue is one of the books I have always put away in the corner, you know, for later. I should definitely prioritise it!

Verdict: KEEP ☑

The Bourne Identity  by Robert Ludlum 

I have put this book on my list because it is widely popular. I have also tried watching the movie, but stopped it half-way through. I like the synopsis, but I never get to actually read it. Maybe some other time.

Verdict: REMOVE ✖

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Well, I managed to clear 3 out of 10 from my TBR List this time, so I suppose that’s not too bad. Let me know if you have read any of these, and if you want me to keep or remove any of these books from my list! I look forward to see what you think!

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The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton [BOOK REVIEW]

book review blog diary of difference books

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton book review books blog diary of difference

★★★★

Mind blowing and unputdownable, this is one of those mystery thrillers that will keep you up at night until you see how it ends!

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

The Hardcastle family is hosting a masquerade at their home, and their daughter Evelyn Hardcastle will die. She will die every day until Aiden Bishop is able identify her killer and break the cycle.

But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up each day in a different  body as one of the guests.

Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend. But nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Grab a copy today: 

Honestly, the first couple of pages, I didn’t know where this book was going and whether I am going to enjoy it at all. But as you go through the chapters and get familiar with the story, you realise how clever this book is, and you enjoy it like you have never enjoyed any other book before.

As a debut novel, Stuart Turton did an incredible job with this book. It starts slowly, and grows into a great story. We follow the main character Aiden through many bodies, day by day. The book is set into one place, one town, one house and its surroundings, and sometimes moves backwards and forwards in time.

If you love mysteries and closed escape room books, you will enjoy this book so much!

I have always admired Aiden. Even though all the bodies he was in tried to make him forget about who he really is, he would always fight so his character can flow on the surface! I loved the sacrifices he makes towards Anna, and their relationship.

The ending, the last 30 pages are so smart, amazing and perfectly wrapped up that I couldn’t believe I never noticed those clues.

I am giving it 4 stars out of 5, because, even though I really, really enjoyed it, it was extremely hard for me to follow the times and bodies, and I couldn’t get along with the stories and solve the mystery together with Aiden – I always felt like I was falling behind, that put me under stress.

If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, please grab a copy as soon as you can. This is the escape room mystery that we have all been waiting for!

I want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me an advanced reader e-copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review.

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Interview With Author – Sean Gibson

Interview with an author

 Hello All!

I have to admit – this is one of my most precious interviews! Sean Gibson, the author of The Camelot Shadow is probably the funniest and most interesting writer I have met. If you haven’t had a chance to pick this book yet – please do! You can see my review here. He has also written The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple and The Strange Task Before Me: Being an Excerpt from the Journal of William J. Upton (Camelot Shadow #0.5).

 

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Just last Tuesday—it was all very sudden. I’m kidding, of course. I realized I wanted to be a writer when I discovered Bob Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy 25 years ago (I’m dating myself with that revelation, I suppose, though at least if I’m dating myself, I know I won’t get turned down…well, I probably won’t get turned down; I do have SOME standards, though, so it’s entirely possible I might reject me).

I’d always been an avid reader, but that was the first time I was consciously aware of books shaping my worldview and inspiring me to think about my approach to life in a different way. I thought it would be pretty fantastic if I could someday do for a reader what Salvatore did for me (and what numerous other writers have done since): entertain, inspire, and provoke thought.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

Ritually sacrificing stuffed bunnies and ripe mangoes to the goddess Buhlschitt in exchange for inspiration. Isn’t that how everyone gets ideas?

What are you currently working on?

I’m just finishing the first draft of a book tentatively titled THE PART ABOUT THE DRAGON WAS (MOSTLY) TRUE (though I suspect the title will change). It’s a prequel of sorts to THE CHRONICLE OF HELOISE & GRIMPLE, albeit written as a cohesive narrative as opposed to a serialized adventure as its predecessor was. It’s a fantasy homage/parody that’s part Hobbit, part Behind the Music with the joke cadence of a Tina Fey show.

 

Where did you get your idea for The Camelot Shadow?

The scene that opens Chapter 1—an older man, sitting in a well-worn leather chair in a magnificent library late at night, a book in his lap and a glass of Scotch by his side—popped into my head unbidden one night when I was trying to fall asleep. I was in college at the time and far more concerned with midterms and naked quad streaking than writing books, so I didn’t do anything about it immediately. Every so often, though, I would think about that scene. The details were so clear in my head—I could practically smell the chair leather and feel the vellum pages within the books. Eventually, I started asking myself who the man was, why he was so melancholy, how he’d amassed all those wonderful books, and why it seemed as though this quiet moment was just the calm before the storm. As I answered those questions, I realized I had a story I had to tell.

It’s funny—when I finished writing the book, I was convinced that was it. I’d told those characters’ tale and it was onto the next thing. But, after a while, I started thinking about them again—what happened after the story ended, and even what had come before. I missed hanging out in that world and writing in that ornate Victorianish style. What can I say? I like my prose like I like my Little Mermaid villains—over the top and incredibly purple.

So, having released a prequel short (THE STRANGE TASK BEFORE ME: BEING AN EXCERPT FROM THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM J. UPTON), I’ve begun plotting a couple of sequels. It’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of these characters—well, except for those who met rather final fates in THE CAMELOT SHADOW. 

What does your writing process look like?

 Mostly it involves trying not to get carsick while typing in the backseat of a stranger’s car, as I chronicle here: 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

  I like to slip in an occasional joke or phrase that only a couple of close friends will catch. A few characters in THE CAMELOT SHADOW are named for close friends, too. And sometimes I’ll work in a Ghostbusters quote, which sharp-eyed GB obsessives will catch. Oh, and if you take the first letter of every sentence in THE CAMELOT SHADOW, you will discover a riddle that, if you can solve it, will lead you to an ancient pirate treasure worth eleventy-billion dollars.

What is your favorite book of all times?

Let me complicate a very straightforward question by saying that I’m ruling ineligible for my response any book that’s part of a series. “That seems unduly draconian, Big Nose,” you might opine, and you would certainly be justified in holding that opinion, both about my exclusion of series books and the proportions of my proboscis. That said, the reason for that exclusion is that I find it impossible to judge a book in a series solely on its own merit; it is inextricably bound up with and linked to the events that happen in the other books in the series, events that inform your response to the book upon first read and shade your memory and perception of it after you’ve read subsequent volumes. For example, I would probably say that GOBLET OF FIRE is my favorite Harry Potter book, but perhaps my love for that book is, at least in part, a result of the buildup to it in the preceding three books and knowing the impact that Voldemort’s return at the story’s end will have on future tales.

(Should I have marked that as a spoiler? I feel like that one’s pretty fair game at this point. Voldemort always comes back, people.)

With that in mind, then, I’ll limit the pool of potential candidates to stand-alone books, and while it’s still an exceedingly difficult choice, if forced to select a single tome, I would say Bram Stoker’s DRACULA.

I first encountered DRACULA as a precocious second grader. While I wouldn’t recommend that most 8-year-olds read a book that’s likely to give them nightmares, if not force them into years of therapy (or, at least, force them to look up every other word), I was hooked from the get-go by a book whose style and plot resonated from page one. For whatever reason, the ornate language, shiver-inducing slow-burn buildup, and terrifying prospect of one of fiction’s most fascinating villains appealed to me so much that, 10 years later, I would make Victorian lit the primary focus of my collegiate career as an English literature major (though, to be fair, the subsequently read works of Dickens and Conan Doyle played a significant role in that decision).

Sure, the book is laden with Victorian melodrama and weird psychosexual shenanigans, but I love that stuff (well, the Victorian melodrama, at least). I’d be hard pressed to think of another single book that pulled me so fully and completely into its world and left me breathless at its conclusion.

 

What is your favorite fictional character and why?

That’s a little bit like asking which is my favorite piece of macaroni in a bowl of macaroni and cheese—I have whole mouthfuls of favorite fictional characters (which is a weird thing to say, maybe). If I was forced to answer the question lest I be denied mac and cheese in perpetuity, I would say Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf books. Dark elves are typically evil, sadistic, and very unlikely to bake cookies for new neighbors. Drizzt, however, has a good heart, and he fights his way to the surface world in an effort to live a life that’s true to his values. What I love most about Drizzt isn’t that he’s noble, brave, and very good at killing orcs (though I do enjoy all of those things)—it’s that he’s always asking questions about the world around him and is unflinching in examining his own actions and beliefs in the service of becoming a better person. I aspire to have Drizzt’s courage and commitment to self-improvement and facing the uncomfortable truths we all have to confront within ourselves from time to time.

Sean, thank you very much for deciding to do this interview with me. It was really an honor and I greatly appreciate it!

Interview With Author – Michael Kott

 Hello All!

I had the honor and opportunity to have an interview with Michael Kott – the author of Piasa, Cryptid and LifeShift. I have had the chance to read Piasa (read my review) and Cryptid (read my review)  so far, and LifeShift is on my TBR list.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a writer?

   I considered it at times but got serious when writing with my daughter.  After going to the Naval Academy  and serving her retired time in the Navy, she was attempting to pursue an acting career in Hollywood. She needed something to fill her time there and asked if I wanted to help her write a book about what it was like for a girl to go to the Naval Academy. This was in the early 2000s. She quit Hollywood because she could not see that lifestyle but as she followed her husband from station to station, we continued, via the internet, to continue write. While she was in Memphis, Tennessee, she had the idea of us getting together somewhere in between where I live (Chicago area) and Memphis. Looking at a map we decided on Alton, Illinois, where we found a nice Bread & Breakfast House to rent.  There I was introduced to the Piasa legend and I began writing about that.  Finally, Krystee, tired of the inability of agents to place her novel and finding herself about to have her first child, told me she was giving up writing. I continued.

 

Where do you get your ideas from?

   Our stay in Alton sparked the Piasa novel and an interest in Cryptozoology. That led to Cryptid.  Those stories are in my website blog. Cryptid contains a setup for a third novel but at present I don’t know if I want to continue them.  Most of my ideas of stories originate in the form of dreams, Usually I try to write based on the dream but it leads somewhere else. Both LifeShift and Moonglimmer started that way, as separate novels, but later merged into one idea. Many scenes are based on personal experiences, especially those in LifeShift and the currently being written, Shadow Lake.

 

Where did you get your idea for Piasa?

    I covered this above, but failed to mention that I was actually aware of this obscure legend even  before and it was instrumental in my suggesting Alton as our meeting place. I was looking up something else on the early internet and somehow came across the early pictograph which is said to be the Piasa. That sparked an interest and I gathered many stories of it, many which seemed to have now disappeared off the internet.  I was aware of a museum in Alton which had featured the Piasa myth in an exhibit, and when I found it was very close to a bed & breakfast, I suggested that as a place to stay. I have pictures of the trip (everything in Alton has changed) if you want to see them. The story started with just the Mike and Pamela characters until someone suggested it would be a good YA tale. Enter Sara Marshall.

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

   I’ve never had writer’s block, I more get Writer’s Interference. That is other things interfering with the process.  With those I let them run their course.

 

What does your writing process look like?

     I usually write in the morning’s, but sometime’s it runs all day. If Something changes, I go back and rewrite immediately. Everyone says to finish first but I can’t do that. Sometimes I switch stories when changes have put my intended outline in jeopardy.  When a story is well on its way I’ll seek someone to read it and give me feedback. Lately that’s been my editor. Being self-published, I don’t have some army of people at some publishers to fall back on. I seek out readers and I have a trusted editor in California. She is very honest with me and gives me critical feedback. When we agree a story is finished, I hire a cover creator and at the same time send it off to my formatter to create a print ready version and e-book. From there it goes to both CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

   I thumb through a Baby names book I got when Krystee was having her first child. When I get an inspiration there, I use it. Sometimes I come across names I like and use them. This is for first names. For last names, I keep old graduation ceremony handouts and look for a last name that goes well with the selected first name. Real scientific, Huh?

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

   I love this question.  My secrets are that some scenes of my fictional stories are in actuality based on facts or beliefs. Sometimes they come out in the news and I worry people will think I put them in because i saw them on the news.  In LifeShift, Alex has a dream where he is living  on Mars and meets with a girl at the shore of and ocean. This was originally written about 2004-5. Two years ago, about 2015, an article appeared saying that science now believes that Mars was one day home to oceans of water. My story was based on a personal dream.  Way back when I first wrote Piasa, I included the entire scene with an escaped tiger. Several years after that scene was written a news story appeared out of Texas about an escaped tiger.

If you had to choose, Piasa or Cryptid, and why?

     Piasa because it was my first. The story line of Cryptid was a substitute as it was originally supposed to be about the Tasmanian Tiger. However, some stupid movie came out with like, killer Tasmanian Tigers, so I abandoned that as a Cryptid I would write about. There continue to be stories out of Tasmania and mainland Australia regarding sightings of thylacines, so maybe I’ll reconsider. I would need to go to Tasmania though so I can write about it.

Mike, thank you very much for taking the time to do this with me! I greatly appreciate it!